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Using Pocket in the classroom to promote nonfiction reading

pocketfavicon I read tons of nonfiction (see Iserotope Extras), and as a teacher, I want to encourage my students to read tons of nonfiction.

The new Common Core State Standards agree with my approach.

But up until yesterday, I couldn’t quite find the best and easiest way to incorporate nonfiction into my classroom with my students.

Diigo is a great service, but it hasn’t been updated for a long time, plus it takes a lot of investment to set it up with students. Snip.it was great until Yahoo bought it. And Google Reader is shuttering soon as well. What is an English (or social studies, or science, or any) teacher to do?

Yesterday, Pocket, which lets you save content to read later, announced a major new feature: Send to Friend. Before yesterday, if you wanted to share an article with another person, you could email the article, but your friend would have to read it directly from his or her inbox or forward it, somewhat clumsily, into their Pocket.

No more! Now you can send an article directly from your Pocket to your friend’s Pocket, plus you can add a personal note. No more middle step of going through your friend’s email inbox.

So what does this all have to do with building a community of nonfiction readers in your classroom? Sure, there are other ways for students to share articles, but Pocket works easily and intuitively on phones, which students love. That’s crucial.

Here are a couple ways teachers can try Pocket out:

1. Share a class Pocket account.
You create an account and share the login and password information with students. When students find a particularly interesting article, they Pocket it to the account. In class, you read one of the articles as a whole group, or you give students the option of reading any of the articles in the queue.

I would recommend this as a first step so your students can become familiar with finding good articles, Pocketing them, and building an enthusiasm for reading. Once that happens, you can choose to move to Step 2.

2. Create and build individual student accounts.
When students have their own Pocket accounts, they have more ownership about what they’re reading. They’re more likely to Pocket articles they care about. Pocket even allows you to favorite articles, so students can keep ones they find particularly interesting.

Also, with individual accounts, students can use the Send to Friend feature. They can send an article to a peer or to the class account. Groups of students with similar interests can trade articles. Once recommended articles get shared around, you’ll likely see a nonfiction reading buzz gain traction.

I haven’t yet heard of teachers who are using Pocket with their students to promote nonfiction reading. Are there any of you out there? If so, let me know. Even if you’re not currently using Pocket, it would be great to know if you think Pocket could work in your classroom. favicon

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